Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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01 April 2012

Saving Teeth

An infected tooth may require root canal treatment [clearing out and decontaminating the interior]. The root canal bends, branches and tapers in a different way within each of our premolars, presenting a significant challenge to the dental surgeon. Pictured are 3-D micro-CT scans of five premolars (four lower jaw and one upper, each viewed from two angles) that reveal the thickness of the dentin wall remaining after excavation. Mapping a tooth’s internal curves and contours like this helps the dentist visualise which root canals have been successfully enlarged, without over-thinning the wall and compromising tooth survival. Thick layers of dentin are depicted in purple, while red highlights areas that may be too thin. Matching dental anatomy with the best excavation technique could greatly improve the success of root canal treatment.

Written by Roz Pidcock

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